Charles Le Brun
(French, 1619 - 1690)
This person is associated with: Baroque

French baroque painter.

Charles Le Brun trained under Vouet, the leading Baroque painter in France during the first half of the century. In 1640, he met his master's rival, Nicolas Poussin, and learnt painting under his guidance. As Poussin did not bear the intrigues of Vouet, he returned to Rome in 1642. Le Brun followed him and became there acquainted with the classical style, which he mixed with his former master's lessons to create his own style.

As he felt that staying in Rome deprived him from important commissions, Le Brun decided to go back to Paris in 1646. Success came very quickly and he was patronized by the greatest statesmen at the time, including chancellor Séguier and Cardinal Mazarin, the current Prime Minister. These powerful recommendations helped him to be one of the founders of the French Academy of Painting on 1 February 1648 (directly appointed professor) at only 28.

However, he continued to gain success. With the deaths of Le Sueur and La Hyre, he remained second to none. Nicolas Fouquet, the Superintendent of Finances and wealthiest man of the country, ordered him the decoration of his Palace of Vaux-le-Vicomte.

After having attended a party in this luxurious palace, King Louis XIV, who had started his personal rule in 1661, felt humiliated as Fouquet had looked more powerful than him. Consequently Fouquet was disgraced and put to jail by the king, who also wanted to build a bigger palace than Fouquet's to display his power to the nobility and his European counterparts.

Impressed by Le Brun's ceilings in the palace of Vaux, Louis XIV ordered him to do greater ones for the Palace of Versailles. While Hardouin-Mansart designed the architecture and Le Notre created the gardens, Le Brun directed the inner decorations. He has been especially celebrated for the Hall of Mirrors for which he personally painted half of the ceilings - his workshop taking care of the rest. The 1.000 m² of frescos in the gallery were the most important painted work of the century and are still considered as one of the greatest achievements in the history of painting.

Le Brun had undoubtedly the best career in the history of the French Academy. He was promoted Rector and Chancellor for life on 6 July 1655, and Director on the 11 September 1683 until his death on 12 February 1690. In fact, Le Brun had started to rule the Academy since the beginning of the personal rule of Louis XIV, in 1661. Moreover, he was ennobled in December 1662, then appointed First Painter to the King in 1664, first director of the Manufacture of the Gobelins, founder of the French Academy in Rome in 1666, Director and General Guard of the Royal Paintings, and finally Prince of the Academy of Saint-Luc in Rome in 1676.


Name:Charles Le Brun
Dates:1619 - 1690
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This person died over 70 years ago (in 1690).